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Title: King Midas' Ass's Ears Revisited
Author(s): VASSILEVA, Maya
Journal: Ancient West & East
Volume: 7    Date: 2008   
Pages: 237-247
DOI: 10.2143/AWE.7.0.2033261

Abstract :
On several occasions the Phrygian King Midas was portrayed with donkey’s ears in Greek literature and art. There is no text that offers a plausible explanation of Midas’ strange appearance and later commentators provide many competing stories to account for his animal ears. A new interpretation can be offered on the grounds of a pre-Phrygian Anatolian tradition. The revised reading of the Luwian hieroglyphs on the so-called ‘Tarkondemos Seal’ reveals the donkey as an old Anatolian royal symbol. The Phrygians might possibly have adopted this kind of symbolism which later was lost or misunderstood. Greeks who provided their own interpretations of Midas’ ass’s ears only reinterpreted the original myth creating several aitia. Anatolian and Aegean Bronze Age survivals in Phrygian culture are being discussed as well.

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